BSO 107 | Buddhism and Climate Change


4-week online course
with Dr. Daniel Cozort

What does Buddhism have to do with climate change?


Join professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Daniel Cozort, and a global cohort of students, for this unique opportunity to explore Buddhism and climate change. 

This course will focus on ways that Buddhism might contribute to changing minds and actions, by countering mistaken views, modeling ethical behavior, and promoting social resilience. We will survey the great range of issues involved with climate change, such as the treatment of nonhuman animals, eco-justice, economic theory, consumerism, the development of virtues, contemplative exercises, working with troubling emotions, ecological education, and eco-activism in Asia and the West. The world needs people who think, speak and act with a firm grasp of reality and with compassion for all living beings, does it not?

What do Buddhist traditions have to say about environmental crises? 


According to Buddhism, the root of the environmental crisis, the greatest threat to life in hundreds of millions of years, is a crisis of mind. The mentality of the modern world is built on the fiction that we are autonomous individuals, separate from our fellow humans, from the rest of nature, and from the cosmos as a whole. This perception is not only incorrect but leads to most of the suffering we experience—anxiety, envy, anger, and frustration—and to greed and hatred, which causes suffering for others as well.

How can ecological activism be integrated with Buddhist practice? 


Buddhism’s relevance to the environmental crisis lies in its critique of modernity and its methods to change minds. It provides a way that, without rejecting the modern world, one can return to a mode of perception that was common to our ancestors and is preserved among the planet’s shrinking indigenous communities. It provides a path to liberation from acquisitiveness and to understand how our desires affect other people and things. In addition, climate change activism has been seen by Buddhists as an opportunity for spiritual practice. Thus, although protection of the environment is not a Buddhist goal per see, Buddhist teachings about the development of insight and virtue lead in that direction.

Course Structure

Students enrolled in this course will receive:

  • 4 pre-recorded video lectures + audio recordings (90 min each)

  •  4 recordings of Zoom Q&A sessions + audio recordings (90 min each)

  • 4 BSO Credits

  • Course Syllabus (PDF)

  • Weekly Readings (PDF)

  • 4 Weekly Handouts (PDF)

  • 4 Weekly Quizzes

  • Access to private Community forum

  • Certificate of Completion (PDF)

Your Instructor


Dr. Daniel Cozort

Professor Emeritus of Religion at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Dr. Daniel Cozort retired from Dickinson College in June 2021, having taught for 37 years in many areas, but specializing in Tibetan Buddhism. 

A native of North Dakota, Dr. Cozort graduated from Brown University, where he focused on Christian theology and ethics but encountered Buddhism through the Providence Zen Center. At the University of Virginia, as a student of Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins, he began his study with Tibetan lamas. He did a year of fieldwork in India, traveling broadly and staying in Tibetan monasteries.

In his teaching career, he created over forty courses, but he also curated art exhibits, directed study abroad programs in South India and in England, and made a film about sand mandalas. He is the author of six books, including Highest Yoga Tantra, Buddhist Philosophy, and Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School, as well as book chapters and articles. For thirteen years, he was the Editor of the Journal of Buddhist Ethics. His most recent book is the Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics (2018), and he recently published an article in Lion’s Roar titled “​​Ten Years After My Accident”. He is currently compiling a new sourcebook for courses on Buddhism and climate change.